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Caught in the warm, effervescent glow of the greatest final show any MMA promotion has ever put on, some are forgetting that this moment marks only the beginning. With the WEC being absorbed by the UFC, the potential for the quality of fights in 2011 has skyrocketed.
It will be interesting to see how the merger is handled. With such a deep talent pool already had at lightweight, the question is how many fighters will the UFC actually bring over. Still, a surplus of talented options isn't really the worst problem to face. For an organization that places a premium on fighters who aggressively bring the fight, Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta must be overjoyed with the possibilities after witnessing the visual splendor that was WEC 53.
Here we take a look at which fighters will be brought over and the fights that need to happen once the new year begins.
This one is a given. Going into Thursday night, I was of the opinion that Ben Henderson presented a better stylistic chance against these two fighters than Pettis. The UFC lightweight division revolves around having a solid wrestling base, and Henderson surpasses Pettis in that aspect.
However, after what we witnessed in the main event, I don't think there is any way you can doubt the kid. Simply put, the Showtime Kick was one of the most incredible moments I have personally ever seen in MMA. If Pettis can pull that off in the most critical minute of his life, then who knows what he is capable of.
Both Maynard and Edgar would present significant challenges to the last WEC Lightweight champ -- Edgar with his movement, Maynard with his wrestling -- but after seeing such a spectacle, I am more convinced then ever that anyone always has a chance to shock the world in the sport of mixed martial arts.
Dominick Cruz vs. Uriah Faber
This bout is going to happen eventually, probably sooner rather than later. Both men are calling for this fight, and it makes sense on paper. Uriah is still the biggest draw coming out of the WEC, and bantamweight has always seemed more fitting for the "California Kid", who was never a big featherweight to begin with. On the other side, Cruz gets a chance to redeem the lone loss on his record -- which was also attained fighting outside of his natural weight class -- and the opportunity to increase his draw considerably against a name opponent.
At the post-fight press conference Cruz vehemently campaigned for this fight to be made.
"It's a different fight [than the previous fight]. Completely." he said. "It's been three years, and that was my very first training camp. I was still working a full-time job. And now I can devote every ounce of energy into fighting to become the best fighter that I can. I just know that I'm a completely different fighter than I was then. My ground game is better. My wrestling is better. My stand-up is better. I have weapons everywhere. I just know I'm on another level than him."
Faber is already on board, and while there are always other options -- especially with Kid Yamamoto entering the picture -- it would certainly prove to be a profitable venture for the UFC's introduction to the bantamweight division.
Ben Henderson vs. Jim Miller
While Ben Henderson may have fallen victim to a highlight reel for the ages, the fact still remains that he is a dangerous matchup for anyone at 155. Being imported into UFC, it is likely that matchmaker Joe Silva won't to throw him straight to the wolves, instead electing to ease the transition for the MMA Lab product.
Jim Miller, fresh off an impressive victory over young phenom Charles Oliveira, is a game opponent that always comes ready to fight. Riding high on a six fight win streak, Miller is beginning to call for a title shot. While he may not be quite there yet, a matchup against Henderson would go a long way towards moving his name up the rankings.
If anything, this bout would be enormously entertaining, as these two men fight with similar high-energy, push-the-pace styles. It would be a welcome introduction to "Smooth" for any casual fan, and would continue Miller's climb up the lightweight ladder.
Why not? "Cowboy" has been calling out Miller for quite a long time, it seems. In the lead-up to WEC 53 Cerrone frequently showed disdain for his opponent, IFL veteran Chris Horodecki, speaking freely about the match he wanted once he entered the UFC. He repeated the sentiment to anyone that would listen after his submission victory on Thursday night.
"That's the fight I want." Cerrone explained. "That's the fight I've wanted once I [enter into] the UFC since I can remember. The Cole Miller fight is definitely who I'm chasing down."
He beat Leonard Garcia about three and a half years ago when I was there. I was no one then. I just had about five fights. And I remember Cole was kind of [cocky], and I said ‘Alright [expletive], I got you. I got you.'"
The fight actually makes sense, as Miller provides a good litmus test as to what "Cowboy" can bring to the UFC. With a record of 6-2 in the organization, "Magrinho" has done an excellent job weeding out the contenders from the pretenders. A win over a game opponent like Cerrone pushes Miller closer to title contention, while a win for Cerrone proves that he has what it takes to compete with the big boys.
Despite a disappointing performance against Bart Palaszewski Thursday night, Shalorus managed to keep his undefeated record intact, likely securing his spot in the UFC's lightweight division. The unimpressive nature of the win, however, means that Shalorus will be forced to start at the very bottom of the ladder and slowly work his way up.
Winner, once a promising prospect in the division, has fallen on hard times of late, losing two consecutive bouts. One more and he may be given his walking papers. A win against a game Shalorus could right the Brit's ship, and send him back into the fray. Contrastingly, a win for Shalorus would go quite far in proving the he deserves to remain within the organization.
Regardless, this bout would result in fireworks, as both men would much rather stand and throw bombs then take the fight to the ground. The UFC loves action, and this contest would provide plenty of it.
As the old saying goes, desperate times call for desperate measures. One minute left in an even fifth round of the most important fight of your life, tied two rounds to two rounds on the scorecards with your opponent -- how much more desperate of a situation can you ask for?
Anthony Pettis was christened with the nickname "Showtime" for the flashy nature of his fighting style. So, realistically, what else could have happened?
"Showtime Kick. I call it the Showtime Kick." Pettis remarked after Thursday night's WEC event.
Busting out one of the craziest moves in MMA history to win the last WEC Lightweight Championship and No. 1 contender status in the UFC? That sounds right up Pettis' alley. The UFC lightweight division better prepare themselves for the new kid in school.
Pulling off something like that in training is one thing, but how does a professional fighter somehow find the balls to execute it in a title fight against world class competition?
"The biggest thing going through my mind was: go for it." Pettis explained. "I kept thinking, ‘Man I've got to do something to land.' He was checking all my low kicks and I couldn't get off. He kept stopping with one or two punches, so I'm like, ‘I've got to do something out of the box and see what happens.'"
We practice it in camp, but to do it a title fight -- in the last round -- it's something different." Pettis continued. "Luckily for me, the kick landed, and it was an impressive kick."
Lost amongst the raucous nature of the closing moments of the WEC -- which, honestly, could not have been more fitting for an organization that has always prided itself for putting on the most exciting cards in the business -- was the fact that it came at the expense of one of the nicest men in MMA.
Ben Henderson, the man who championed Arizona's cause in order to get an event held here in Phoenix, was visibly shaken during the press conference, almost reaching the point of tears several times. Still, the former champion -- who certainly has a bright future in the UFC -- took everything in stride and even made light of the situation.
When asked if he had ever seen anything like it, Henderson quipped, "I saw it on Mortal Kombat once." He finished, "I don't really remember it. It was a great kick. It will probably be a highlight reel for a while, huh?"
It was an amazing night of MMA in Glendale, AZ. What a final show from the WEC before it ended its nine-year run and merges into UFC control. Obviously, the fight of the night was the final bout between Henderson and Pettis with "The Kick" that will go down in MMA legend. It was a privilege to be cage-side for it.
Here's the press conference from after the event featuring WEC CEO Reed Harris along with the new WEC Lightweight Champ, Anthony Pettis; UFC/WEC Bantamweight Champ Dominick Cruz; Eddie Wineland; Donald "Cowbow" Cerrone; Kamal Shalorus; and Ben Henderson.
Obviously, the talk of the night was Pettis' kick late in Round 5. It was something he said he's practice and he knew at the time he needed to do something out of the box. He called it the "Showtime Kick". Our photographer, Ryan Malone, did fantastic work but unfortunately from his vantage point at the cage the angle was wrong to get a good photo. It happened basically immediately to his right so he was too close to get a good shot. Here's what he did get.
Just because we didn't get The Picture of The Kick, doesn't mean we don't have a bunch of cool stuff to share. Take a look.
A few last notes, Ken Stone who was motionless for a long time and taken out of the cage on a backboard was reportedly doing fine and had been medically cleared. He was slammed by Eddie Wineland in an under card match. Most of the under card fights will be available on the UFC web site this weekend and the second best fight of the night -- Ivan Menjivar vs. Brad Pickett -- will on at Versus.com for free tomorrow.
Pettis vs. Henderson Gallery
Cruz vs. Jorgensen Gallery
Additional photos including Shalorus vs. Palaszweski and Cerrone vs. Horodecki.
We will have more photos of the under card fights tomorrow along with additional post-event coverage.
The main event is upon us. The last fight the WEC will ever hold. Lightweight belt on the line as hometown hero Benson Henderson squares off against Anthony "Showtime" Pettis. The crowd is raucous as Henderson enters the arena. Herb Dean is the referee. The two fighters circle each other early, Pettis with a bounce in his step. Henderson throws the first shot but nothing lands. Both men are taking their time, gauging the distance.
The crowd loudly chants "Ben! Ben! Ben!" as Henderson shoots in a nails Pettis with a right hand. Henderson clinches with Pettis, holding him against the cage. Pettis scrambles to get free, but Henderson trips the challenger to the ground and ends up on top. Pettis briefly attempts to grab an armbar but Henderson has none of it. Henderson backs out and Pettis stands up. Pettis lands a front kick that stumbles Henderson. Henderson rushes in and secures another takedown, standing and working from top as the round ends. SB Nation Arizona scores the round 10-9 for Henderson.
Round two begins and both fighters look fresh. Pettis throws a right hand but misses. Pettis lands a right hand square and Henderson hits the floor. Pettis tries to jump on the opportunity but Henderson works his way back to the feet. Henderson clinches with Pettis against the cage briefly, then lets it goes and backs away. Pettis throws a head kick but is blocked. Henderson closes the distance, scrambles, and clinches with Pettis against the cage. Henderson lands a few inside knees, and backs away. Henderson lands a solid kick to the midsection. Pettis attempts a flying knee in retaliation but misses. Pettis accidentally kicks Henderson in the man parts, and action is briefly stopped. Henderson throws another head kick that is barely blocked by Pettis. The round ends as both men circle the cage. Close round, could go either way. SB Nation Arizona scores the round 10-9 for Henderson.
Round three begins and the two fighters instantly engage. Henderson lands a few body kicks right into Pettis' ribs. Pettis closes the distance and trips up Henderson. Pettis scrambles and takes Henderson's back. Henderson stands but Pettis is hanging on. Henderson is resting against the cage, essentially carrying Pettis. The crowd rallies behind the hometown fighter, chanting "Ben! Ben!". Pettis is landing shots to Henderson's ribs from his position. Henderson grabs an arm but Pettis responds with a face shots to Henderson's face. Pettis looks up at the clock as he hangs on. Henderson relentlessly throws elbows against Pettis' thigh. As the round ends, Pettis releases his grip and attempts a head kick, but misses. SB Nation Arizona scores the round 10-9 for Pettis.
Round four begins and both fighters are cautious, throwing shots form a distance. Henderson rushes in and flurries. Henderson shoots in and takes Pettis to the ground. In the ensuing scramble, Henderson takes Pettis' back and sinks in a rear-naked choke. Somehow Pettis fights it off, works, and manages to reverse the position. Pettis takes Henderson's back as the hometown favorite stands and carries the pair to the side of the cage. They clinch briefly before releasing. Front kick from Henderson. Another kick but Pettis responds with a stiff shot to the head. Henderson shoots for a takedown, but Pettis stuffs the shot. Pettis grabs Henderson's neck and almost locks in a guillotine. It's not quite in and Henderson fights it off. The round ends as Pettis continues to try to tighten his grip. SB Nation Arizona scores the round 10-9 for Pettis.
Round five begins as the crowd erupts. Whoever wins this round wins the fight. Henderson flurries and shoots in but is stuffed. Pettis lands a stiff leg kick, but it grazes Henderson's crotch. Once the action resumes, Henderson lands a sharp body kick but eats a right hand from Pettis. Pettis shows off some Ali-style footwork. Henderson slips and falls but the two stand back up. Henderson shoots in for the takedown but Pettis sprawls. Henderson tries again and gets it this time. Shouts of "Smooth! Smooth! Smooth!" echo from the crowd. Henderson takes Pettis' back. Pettis rolls and reverses the position. Pettis stands up, Henderson follows suit.
One minute left and the round is still up for grabs. Pettis somehow lands a flying head kick off the cage that floors Henderson. Pettis smothers Henderson who is clearly stunned. Henderson stands and charges forward only to eat a knee that put him back on the floor as the round ends. Amazing final minute by Pettis. That kick was straight out of a kung-fu movie. SB Nation Arizona scores the round 10-9 for Pettis.
Official judges score the bout 48-47, 48-47, 49-46, and awards the unanimous decision to the new WEC Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis.
It is a historic night here in Phoenix with Dominick Cruz facing Scott Pettis. This fight is unique, as the winner walks away with not one, but two titles -- the WEC Bantamweight belt and the inaugural UFC Bantamweight belt. A spot in the pages of history on the line tonight as these two men make their way into the cage.
The crowd is fired up as the contestants touch gloves. The fighters circle the cage, gauging the distance. Cruz lands an early right hand jab. Jorgensen responds with a left hand. Cruz just nicks Jorgensen with a head kick. Cruz closes the distance, landing a nice combination. Another right hand from Cruz. And another. Jorgensen shoots the distance and presses Cruz up against the cage.
Cruz releases and the two back up to the center of the cage. Cruz lands two leg kicks in succession. Another leg kick followed by a stiff jab. Cruz unloads another combination, ending with an uppercut that just grazes Jorgensen. Cruz is throwing a ton at the challenger but nothing is landing flush. Jorgensen rushes in and clichés against the cage. Cruz pushes off the cage and a scramble ensues. Jorgensen takes Cruz down but Cruz reverses to end up on top as the round ends. SB Nation Arizona scores the round 10-9 for Cruz.
Round two begins and the two fighters instantly meet in the center of the cage. Jorgensen shoots in but the takedown is stuffed. Cruz lands a sharp jab before backing away. Cruz lands another jab, and another. Jorgensen can't seem to close the distance. Cruz is keeping his hands down, and showing fabulous head movement. Cruz shoots in and secures the takedown. Cruz hammers Jorgensen with the left hand, trying to free the right hand that Jorgensen has trapped. Jorgensen scrambles and gets his back up against the cage.
Two minutes remain as Cruz is staying busy from the top. Cruz lands two elbows to the top of Jorgensen's head. Jorgensen can't work himself free from Cruz's smothering wrestling. Jorgensen scrambles with thirty seconds left and manages to stand. Cruz lands a stiff shot against the cage but Jorgensen responds with a hard kick. The round ends as the two back away from the cage. SB Nation Arizona scores the round 10-9 for Cruz.
Round three begins and Cruz resumes where he left off, throwing a stiff jab in the face of Jorgensen. Another right hand sends Jorgensen to the floor but he instantly stands back up. Cruz is mixing up his shots and keeping Jorgensen at a distance. Cruz is dodging everything Jorgensen throws at him with superb head movement. Cruz unloads a combination on Jorgensen, the last shot landing flush.
Jorgensen throws a shot but Cruz dodges and lands a solid counter straight. Jorgensen rushes in but Cruz spins him off-balance and takes him down. Jorgensen sweeps and finds himself on top, before immediately standing up. Cruz misses a jab as the round ends. SB Nation Arizona scores the round 10-9 for Cruz.
We enter the championship rounds as the fourth round begins. Cruz lands a stiff right hand square on Jorgensen. Jorgensen rushes in but Cruz takes him right to the floor. The champ is controlling from the top. Jorgensen is unable to mount any defense. Jorgensen scrambles and the two end up back on their feet. Jorgensen closes the distance and clinches Cruz against the cage. Cruz reverses and releases Jorgensen. Jorgensen closes the distance again but Cruz takes him back down.
Cruz scrambles and almost gets Jorgensen's back before the two fighters stand back up. Cruz continues to mix up his shots; his head movement seeming to baffle Jorgensen. Cruz shoots in and secures another take down before the round ends. SB Nation Arizona scores the round 10-9 for Cruz.
Fifth and final round of this championship fight. Jorgensen needs to do something drastic. Cruz misses early with a head kick. Jorgensen is trying to push the pace but Cruz is avoiding everything thrown at him. Cruz lands a nice counter uppercut but Jorgensen moves forward. Cruz is keeping Jorgensen at a distance with sharp kicks and jabs. Cruz lands a nice combination as Jorgensen moves back. Cruz's hands are down and there is a notable bounce in his step. Jorgensen shoots and secures the takedown. Cruz stands back up and circles away. Cruz explodes in and secures yet another takedown.
Jorgensen just can't seem to deal with Cruz's wrestling. The crowd lustfully boos, upset that Cruz may be riding out a decision. Cruz is keeping busy from the top as the round nears its conclusion. Jorgensen scrambles and stands back up, only to eat a flying knee from Cruz. The two fighters have one last exchange as the final horn sounds. SB Nation Arizona scores the round 10-9 for Cruz.
Official judges score the bout 50-45, 50-45, 50-45, and award the unanimous decision to the new UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz.
A spot in the UFC is likely up for grabs in this lightweight battle. The fighters square off, with Horodecki bouncing around as Cerrone stares across the cage. Cerrone closes in and clinches, but inadvertently hits Horodecki in the nether-regions. Horodecki seems shaken up and takes a moment. Referee Herb Dean restarts the action.
Cerrone is landing with a few body kicks before shooting and taking Horodecki down. Horodecki quickly scrambles and stands back up. Horodecki lands a nice right hand shot. The fighters briefly clinch and trade knees to the body. Horodecki is tagging Cerrone's right leg with kicks. Cerrone lands a stiff jab but Horodecki keeps moving forward. Horodecki shoots and takes Cerrone down, but the two instantly stand.
Cerrone closes the distance and trips Horodecki, but the IFL veteran winds up on top. The fighters stand again, but Cerrone again wrestles Horodecki down, and takes his back. The round ends with Cerrone in dominant position. SB Nation Arizona scores the round 10-9 for Cerrone.
Round two begins and the two fighters circle the cage trading kicks. Cerrone swings but Horodecki ducks under and takes "Cowboy" down. Cerrone is staying busy from the bottom, locking in Horodecki's neck and trying to secure a triangle. It isn't quite in deep enough and the action stalls. Horodecki can't get out of the submission attempt and Cerrone is continually working to secure a good angle.
Finally, "Cowboy" sinks the choke in and coaxes a tap from Horodecki. Donald Cerrone def. Chris Horodecki via Triangle Choke at 2:43 of the second round.
The crowd is finally starting to fill out as the second bout of the main card begins. This is the first televised bout of the evening. Shalorus matches his unbeaten record against Palaszewski's four fight win streak; something's got to give. The two circle around the cage to start the match.
Shalorus unloads with a one-two. Palaszewski responds. Shalorus shoots for the takedown and succeeds. Palaszewski lands a stiff jab from the bottom. Shalorus throwing body shots and shots to the head from the top. Palaszewski is trapping the left arm of Shalorus. More body shots from Shalorus. Palaszewski almost gets the left arm but Shalorus stands up.
Shalorus is unloading shots on Palaszewski's head. Shalorus gets back on top of Palaszewski and continues the assault. Palaszewski is warned for grabbing the cage. Palaszewski stands, to a rousing applause from the crowd. The two trade kicks as they circle the cage. Shalorus is getting the better of the exchanges. Shalorus hammers the left leg of Palaszewski as the round come to a close. SB Nation Arizona scores the round 10-9 for Shalorus.
Round two begins as Palaszewski breathes in deeply. The two again trade kicks. Shalorus swings wildly and misses. Palaszewski just misses a head kick. Palaszewski tries again and Shalorus catches the leg. The two circle the cage. The crowd is growing restless at the inaction.
Palaszewski strikes hard with a leg kick. Sharlous again swings wildly with an overhand right. The two exchange blows in the pocket and Palaszewski catches Sharlous with a stiff jab. Palaszewski circles and almost lands a massive head kick. Palaszewski throws a front kick to keep the distance. Sharlous shoots for the takedown and lands in Palaszewski's guard. The crowd boos as the fighters remain on the ground.
Shalorus edges Palaszewski closer to the cage and postures up. The two stand. Palaszewski slips and falls but re-catches his balance. Round two ends under a chorus of boos. SB Nation Arizona scores the round 10-9 for Shalorus.
Round three starts. Palaszewski needs to do something drastic to steal this. The tempo has picked up as the two exchanges punches. Shalorus swings wildly with an overhand right, following by a nice combination. Palaszewski lands two quick left jabs to the head of Shalorus. Shalorus changes levels and shoots but Palaszewski catches the takedown and lands a knee. Palaszewski lands a solid head kick.
Shalorus again shoots in, and this time he secures the takedown. Palaszewski is frantic from the bottom, knowing that he is running out of time. Shalorus lands a few hammerfists from the top. Palaszewski pops back up and Shalorus looks tired. Palaszewski lands a knee to Shalorus' head. The crowd is getting behind "Bartimus". Ten second left as Palaszewski shoots for another knee, but misses. The round comes to a close under a chorus of boo's. SB Nation scores the round 10-9 for Palaszewski.
Official judges score the bout 30-27, 28-29, 29-28, and award the split decision to Kamal Shalorus.
After a fantastic undercard, we start the main card. Downes refuses to touch gloves. Zhang closes the distance and throws a hook combination against the cage. They clinch and scramble to floor. Zhang executes a perfect hip toss as Downes falls to the floor. Zhang lands in on top and rotates to the back. He tries to lock in a choke and he may have it. Downes fights it off. Zhang tries again, but Downes against resists.
"He's just a boy!" echoes from the crowd. Downes sweeps into a beautiful reversal, ending up on top in Zhang's guard. Downes lets Zhang stand. Zhang throwing hands. Downes get a takedown and takes it back to the floor. Zhang shoots his hips and grabs an arm. The arm bar is close but Downes fights it off. The round ends with Downes in a precarious position. SB Nation Arizona scores the round 10-9 for Zhang.
Round two starts. Zhang stands flatfooted as Downes tests the distance. The two clinch against the cage. Zhang is trying to secure a leg to get the takedown. He rotates his hips and gets Downes down. Daniel stands right back up. Zhang sits holding guard on the floor. He looks tired. Downes throws a punch and rejoins Zhang on the ground. They scramble and Downs takes Zhang's back. Downes throws a few hammerfists to Zhang's face.
Daniel is looking for the choke. Zhang rotates and Downes ends up on top in half guard. Downes lands an elbow. Zhang is exhausted. Downes lands a few more shots before standing up. Zhang refuses to get up. Downes jumps back on Zhang who tries crawls away. Downes lands a few knees to the ribs on Zhang. Downes rotates back into guard and delivers a few sharp elbows to Zhang's face. Blood is pour down the face of the ‘Mongolian Wolf'. The round ends. SB Nation Arizona scores the round 10-9 for Downes.
The third round begins and Downes instantly tags Zhang, who stays on the ground. A scramble ensues and Downes ends up on top of Zhang against the cage, landing shots to the face. Zhang grabs Downes' arms and tries to control the blows. Zhang throws a few upkicks but Downes retaliates with another big shot.
Halfway through the third round and Downes is dominating. Danny takes Zhang's back. He is throwing punches, trying to flatten the fighter from China. Zhang's face is in bad shape. Downes wraps an arm around Zhang's neck and pulls into half guard. He briefly gets a mount before Zhang turns and gives up his back. Downes stands up and throws shots as the round comes to a close. SB Nation Arizona scores the round 10-9 for Downes.
Official judges score the bout 29-28, 30-27, 29-28, and award the unanimous decision to Danny Downes.
Last fight of the undercard. All week Varner, the Arizona native, has been relishing the opportunity to fight in front of the hometown crowd. Let's see how he handles it. Of course he enters the ring to "Home, Sweet Home" by Motley Crue. Herb Dean the referee. The fight starts. Varner probing early with the right hand. The crowd is clearly pro Varner.
Roller throws a double jab but nothing lands. Varner with a wide stance, probably looking to avoid the takedown. Varner lands an overhead right, followed by a few leg kicks. Varner lands a stiff left hand that floors Roller. Roller recovers quickly and stands up. Varner lunges forward but is stuffed. Roller grabs takes Varner's back and grabs hold of his neck. Varner stands up and holds on to the right hand of Roller as the two press against the cage.
Varner catapults himself sideways as the two hit the ground. Roller gets an arm underneath the neck and is looking for the choke. It's in deep. Varner is forced to tap late in the first round. Shane Roller def. Jamie Varner via rear-naked choke at 3:55 of the first round.
Another Bantamweight contest. The two touch gloves and meet at the center of the cage. A couple early exchanges but nothing is landing flush. Menjivar attempts a spinning backfist but Pickett ducks underneath and takes him down. The two quickly stand back up. Pickett lands a strong left jab. Menjivar closes the distance and the two clinch. After a few moments they separate again.
The two continue to exchange as the round enters the halfway point. Menjivar is bleeding out of his left eye. Both men throwing hands and landing solid hooks. Menjivar attempts another spinning backfist and Pickett counters with a knee. Mejivar enters the clinch and lands a couple uppercuts. Another spinning backfist from Menjivvar. And another. Picket ducks underneath and takes him down. Brad is keeping busy, landing a couple solid elbows to Menjivars forehead. End of round one. SB Nation Arizona scores the round 10-9 for Pickett.
Round two starts and the two slap gloves. Inadvertent kick to crotch by Pickett. Menjivar shakes it off and the fight resumes. Menjivar lands a stiff left jab. Pickett lands a nice body shot. Both men are firing wildly in the pocket, and landing. Good battle. Menjivar lands another jab. Nice right hook by Menjivar stuns Pickett. Menjivar is teeing off. Pickett grabs a leg and shoots for a desperation takedown. It works and Pickett lands in Menjivar's guard.
Pickett staying busy on the top. Menjivar tries to secure a triangle but Pickett has none of it. The two stand. Menjivar lands another shot. Picket drops levels and goes for the takedown but is stuffed. The two clinch against the cage as the round ends. Pickett took a ton of damage in that round. SB Nation scores the round 10-9 for Menjivar.
Round three starts and the crowd shows their appreciation, cheering wildly. Both men look fresh to start the round, bouncing on their heels. Menjivar grabs the neck of Pickett and lands a shot. They fighters clinch and Pickett shoots for the takedown but Menjivar sprawls. Pickett is throwing shots but Menjivar is blocking everything. Pickett with the leg kick. Pickett lands a solid left hook. Menjivar eats another shot. Pickett lands a flying knee square. Another overhand right from Pickett. Both men throwing hands in the pocket.
One minute left in the fight. The crowd is exploding. Menjivar lands a stiff jab, followed by a body kick. Pickett swinging wildly as the round comes to a close. Great fight. SB Nation Arizona scores the round 10-9 for Pickett.
Let's see how the unproven Phoenix judges score it.
Official judges score the bout 29-28, 29-28, 29-28, and award the unanimous decision to Brad Pickett.
Ken Stone, American Top Team product, takes on former champ Eddie Wineland in the next Bantamweight contest. Stone throws an early leg kick. Wineland returns the favor. The two are testing the distance with sporadic kicks. Wineland lands a hard combination. The two grapple and Stone latches onto to Wineland. Wineland is carrying Stone, who is holding onto Wineland's neck. He carries Stone to the side of the cage, waits a second, and viciously slams him down. Stone is out. Wineland lands a quick punch for good measure and the contest is stopped. The crowd is delirious. Eddie Wineland def. Ken Stone via Knockout (Slam) at 2:11 of the first round.
Stone hasn't moved since the fight ended. The doctors strap him to a stretcher and carry him out. Hopefully everything is alright.
Note: This report is from Shaun. We are having all kinds of wireless internet problems but we are are still doing better than that Stone kid. Brutal. - sp
After the fight both Wineland and WEC CEO Reed Harris reported that Stone had been medically cleared and was back in his hotel room. Personally, I've never seen an athlete get knocked out for that long of a time and not end up in the hospital. He did not move the entire time he was being worked on or while they were carrying him out of the ring. It was at least five minutes and probably more.
This picture was right before the slam.
This was the result.
Both men look focused as they enter the cage. Herb Dean the referee. Kerr instantly lunges in with a flying knee. It barely misses but he grabs a hold of Castillios neck and take him down. The two scramble and Castillo sweeps beautifully to end up on top. Kerr latches on to Castillo’s left leg and tries to force a kneebar. Castillo remains calm, postures up and lands a big shot on Kerr. Another big shot. He is teeing off. Kerr is out. Herb Dean calls the contest. Danny Castillo def. Will Kerr via Knockout at 1:25 of the first round.
Alcantara making his WEC debut. Lamas on a three fight win streak in the WEC. Alacantra throws hands early, Lamas lands a hard leg kick. Another exchange ends up with both fighters against the cage. They back out and keep the action going. Both seem to be judging range. Lamas just misses a superman punch, and Alacantra rushes him. Lamas reverses it and pushes Alcantra against the cage. Lamas keeping the arm secure. They back out briefly before Lamas pushes him back against the cage. Lamas throwing a few knees as he leans on his opponents. Another scramble and the two push out to the center of the ring. Alcantra lands a vicious left hand and knocks Lamas out cold. Lands a few extra shots just to make sure. Referee stops the fight and doctors check on Lamas. Eventually he gets up and seems to be alright. Yuri Alcantara def. Ricardo Lamas via TKO at 3:26 of the first round.
The first fight of the night and we start with the Bantamweights. Barao enters the fight on a ridiculous 27 fight win streak. Barao attempts an early high kick, but Cariaso checks it. Good back and forth action to start the night. Both Barao and Cariaso trade kicks. Cariaso loses his balance as Barao lands an early takedown straight into guard. Cariaso grabs an arm and tries for the armbar but he doesn’t quite have it. Barao staying busy, scrambles to the top and attempts an arm bar before moving into side guard and trying for a kimura. Nothing takes. The two scramble and Barao takes Cariaso’s back. Barao keeps working. Lands a few elbows, Cariaso tries to roll. During the rush Barao sinks in a rear-naked choke. It’s in deep. Cariaso taps. Renan Barao def. Chris Cariaso via Rear-Naked Choke at 3:47 of the first round.
WEC 53 is finally upon us. Live from Jobing.com, we bring you two title fights with UFC implications, and a whole slew of exciting MMA action. We will be bringing you updates as the night goes on.
WEC Lightweight Championship
Anthony Pettis (154.5) vs. Benson Henderson (155)
WEC Bantamweight Championship
Daniel Downes (154.5) vs. Tie Quan Zhang (155.5)
Will Kerr (155) vs. Danny Castillo (155.5)
Yuri Alcantara (154.5) vs. Ricardo Lamas (156)
Chris Cariaso (136) vs. Renan Barao (136)
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